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$20 million infrastructure fund for Chathams

$20 million infrastructure fund for Chatham Islands

Rongotai MP Annette King and Chatham Islands ad hoc minister's group chair Jim Anderton have announced Government approval in principle for setting up a $20 million Chatham Islands infrastructure fund to be used over five years from next July.

Ms King and Mr Anderton said the fund recognised the fact that the Chatham Islands needs help rebuilding a range of infrastructure. "The ad hoc group was set up by the Government to explore the level of need and the best ways the Government could provide help."

The fund would have three immediate priorities, they said.
• Electricity generation and distribution
• The replacement of Owenga wharf
• Repair and development of Waitangi wharf and provision of a breakwater

Annette King said she was delighted with the outcome as the Government has a responsibility to provide essential facilities for isolated communities.

"The Chathams are a unique part of New Zealand with challenges related to their small size and their distance from the mainland. Various groups, including the Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust, have approached us for support across a range of projects, and the Government has agreed to help initially with the three priority areas," she said.

"Affordable electricity is the first priority. Electricity on the Chathams is generated from diesel supplied from mainland New Zealand, but is becoming increasingly expensive because of the rise in diesel prices. The Government will work with the Trust and a commercial operator to develop modern wind-generated technology to reduce the use of the diesel system to provide cheaper power.

"The Owenga wharf, which provides a link to Pitt and other islands, is in pressing need of repair, with pilings damaged by ship worm.

"Further work is being done in relation to Waitangi wharf or to an alternative wharf at Port Hutt with improved road access. The work focuses on detailed design, survey and costing. The current state of Waitangi wharf causes real concern. A safe and stable shipping connection is vital to developing the Chathams economy, and Government officials will work urgently with the trust to develop viable solutions."

Ms King said the decision by the Government is extremely good news for people living and working on the Chatham Islands.


ENDS

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